Daily ferry service coming to Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Population growth and crowded highways have paved the way for a passenger ferry service in the Charleston area that's expected to begin in October.

The Daniel Island Ferry is expected to carry up to 49 passengers from a Wando River dock near Children's Park on Daniel Island to the Charleston Peninsula, The Post and Courier reported. There also will be stops at the Charleston Maritime Center and Joe Riley Waterfront Park.

Unlike Daniel Island Ferry's sister company, Charleston Water Taxi, the new ferry service will use a fast, enclosed, air-conditioned boat.

"You can dress for business and do work on your laptop" on the new boat, said Colby Hollifield, a partner in Daniel Island Ferry. "We've gotten dozens of emails from people who are interested."

The company expects to take delivery of the boat next month, Hollifield said.

It won't be the first time Daniel Island residents have been able to commute by boat to the peninsula, but it would be the first regular commercial ferry service the area has seen in decades. Last year, Charleston Water Taxi temporarily offered a commuter schedule when the James B. Edwards Bridge between Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant was shut down.

Typically, Daniel Island residents who work on the peninsula get there by taking Interstate 526 through Mount Pleasant to U.S. Highway 17 or I-526 through North Charleston to Interstate 26. If there's light traffic, the trip could take 25 minutes. A boat can make the trip at least that fast, and could easily beat a car during rush hour commuting time.

The ferry service is expected to offer two morning commuter trips to the peninsula and two return trips in the evening.

John Runyon, director of business services at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been working on MUSC participation in "Boat to Work Day" on Sept. 20. That event, which was also held last year, is aimed at promoting transportation alternatives.

"It's just amazing to me that we don't have a robust water taxi and ferry in the city that moves people across this harbor," Runyon said. "Any place I have gone in the world I would see that."

He said part of the challenge is having buses that connect water taxi and ferry docks to final destinations downtown

Hollifield said he's been talking with the city of Charleston and the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority about coordinating the ferry schedule with CARTA buses.

Daniel Island Ferry isn't selling tickets yet. Hollifield said round-trip tickets will be $15, but the daily price drops if people agree to buy monthly passes for $250, or for $150 with a one-year commitment.

"We've gotten dozens of emails from people who are interested," he said.

Eventually, the company hopes to expand ferry service to James Island, North Charleston, the Cainhoy peninsula and other locations.

"Sullivan's Island is the next place we'd like to go," Hollifield said.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com